Halloween is one of our favorite holidays at the KidSpeak, LLC office because it lends itself to wonderful language and social opportunities for our kids at the office, at school, at home, at church and more. Although this is true, sometimes we forget that Halloween can be pretty scary especially for our little ones.
A few years ago we realized that for some of our little ones, Halloween night was the first night that they had ever walked around their neighborhood in the dark and I am sure you can imagine how scary that can be. We see strange and unusual costumes, people with painted faces, different yard art, we are around a lot of strangers and even just walking in the dark can be scary. Today we want to share a few simple and fun ideas that you can do throughout October to help your child on Halloween night!
1. Play with flashlights:
Playing with flashlights in the dark can be a blast. We would suggest first playing with flashlights in the house. Once your child likes this activity, then it is time move to your backyard or front yard (remember at nighttime). Once this becomes easy and fun, try to go on nighttime walks with your flashlights.
2. Walk outside:
The next activity that can help is to take a walk outside in the day time while trying to go on the same or similar route that you will on Halloween night. During your walk, talk about the houses: the color of the house; whose house it is if you know them; the color of the door; what you see in their yard such as pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, the big blowup characters and more. Once you feel your child is doing great with this, then try to do the same routine but when it is dark outside. You may need to do this in steps: during the daytime, then when it is a little darker and then when it is dark. Also if you have been practicing with flashlights, then bring those with you.
3. Scavenger hunts:
One thing you can add to your walk outside is a scavenger hunt. This will help them focus on the houses and the path and is a great activity to use the night of Halloween. A scavenger hunt may also help distract them from other things that they may find scary.
4. Walk around the costume aisle:
The simple act of going up and down the costume aisle at Target, Walmart or Party City can also be helpful. The idea would be to go up and down the costume aisle talking about what you see and touching the costumes. Start with the non-scary costumes and then move to the more scary costumes.
5. Face painting:
One thing that can be scary on Halloween besides seeing all the costumes is seeing all the different people with face paint. Very similar to the costume aisle idea, your goal is to help your child be familiar with seeing people with different face paintings. Start with the non-scary faces and then move to the more scary ones. You can do this by looking at pictures on the internet, painting Mommy or Daddy’s faces and more.
6. Work on “scary”:
Another great idea is to work on the concept of “scary” and what to do when your child feels scared. At our office we like to work on our kids saying, “I feel scared. I need a hug,” and they get a hug and we say “It’s okay”; and then we continue on with the activity. We want them to understand the feeling of “scared”, know that it is okay to be “scared” but also feel safe.
We practice this in many ways: by singing songs like “If you’re scared and you know, get a hug” (to the tune of “Happy and You Know It”); coloring and painting things that are “scary” and “not scary” and more.
7. Halloween night:
When Halloween night arrives, use all of the above skills and strategies that you have worked on. If you used flashlights on your walk, then remember to bring the flashlights. If your child loved doing the neighbor scavenger hunt, then bring your scavenger hunt list. If you worked on “scary”, then remember to focus on “scary – get a hug – it’s okay”.
8. Be okay with baby steps:
On Halloween night be okay with “baby steps” and remember that even “baby steps” are BIG progress for kids. They may only be able to go to three or four houses on your route versus all of them. They may not actually make it out of the house but instead they enjoy passing out candy to trick-or-treaters – and that is pretty awesome thing too!
We hope everyone has fun preparing his or her child for Halloween!